Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2010 (Landsdown, VA) with:

The School Of Practical Philosophy: Love - Week Three

By Ben Nadel on

In week three of Love at the School of Practical Philosophy, our practice has been to "meet people as if for the first time." This means that when we meet people that we already know, we are supposed to leave all of our bagage and our history behind us; we need to come to the conversation with an open mind and an open heart. Now, this doesn't mean forgetting or dismissing the past; it simply means granting yourself the opportunity to be the person that you truly want to be.

A while back, my good friend, Iveth, shared a wonderful quote from her favorite poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi:


 
 
 

 
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. -- Jalal al-Din Rumi.  
 
 
 

When you read this quote, I think the "easy" interpretation is to only consider the love that comes to you; that is, to remove the barriers that prevent you from receiving love. Over the last few years of deep thinking and reflection, however, I believe the more important way to see this quote is to consider the love that emanates from within you. While we should all be worthy of being loved, I think the more detrimental barriers are those that prevent us from giving love.

With our practice - when we try to meet others as if for the first time - it makes us conscious of the barriers that we have built. Now, that doesn't mean that those barriers are going to be easy to remove - they probably won't be. But, the place to start is definitely with a point of consciousness.

Recently, I had a chance to apply a similar kind of mentality in my relationship. One night, my girlfriend told me that she wanted to share something about her past; but, that she was afraid it would make me feel differently about her. Immediately, of course, my body went into a Fight or Flight response; before she even said anything, my brain was more than happy to dump a copious amount of adrenaline into my bloodstream.

When she finally told me what was on her mind, it turned out to be rather inconsequential. But the rationality of it didn't matter - at this point, my body was pretty amped up. Rather than just "muscling" through the moment, however, I tried to my best to express that my love for her wasn't dependent on her past, but rather on her present.

What I said at the time was probably incoherent - I'm not one whose terribly good off the cuff. But, the awesome thing about it was that it had a tremendous calming effect. As I told my girlfriend why I loved her, I felt myself halting the construction of any barriers - I found myself reconnecting with the understanding that "her" past was not "our" past. And, I found that the love I could give was even stronger than it had been before.

By bringing an open, untethered mind to the moment, I was able to bring stillness into my mind and into my heart. And, from that stillness, I was able to become the loving, caring, and devoted person that I truly want to be.

Now that I have had some time to reflect on that experience, I wanted to better articulate my feelings in a way that I couldn't during the catecholamine-colored haze:

When we think about our past, it is easy to regret the things that we have or have not done. What is hard, is to remember that our choices and our experiences have shaped the people that we have become. And, as I sit here and think about why I love you, it is certainly not because you have a spotless past; it is because everything about you makes me want to be near you. This person that you have become - the person that I love - is the culmination of every choice you've made. And I fear to think that had you done anything differently in your life, our hearts may not have crossed. So, the next time you're worried about telling me anything, simply remember that your life, in its entirety, has become a pillar of my happiness.

In my life, several people have really surprised me. That is, they have turned out to be much better people than I had originally given them credit for. Unfortunately, this surprise only happens when people present such compelling evidence that I have no choice but to involuntarily tear down the barriers that I have built against them. This is always a wonderful and unexpected moment. If I can bring a more open mind to my present - if I can meet people as if for the first time - I wonder how many more wonderful "surprises" I'll be able to experience.



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Reader Comments

Reading this, I wonder if the main portion of these barriers are constructed by fear?

I've often wondered what is the main obstacle to any kind of thoughtful consideration of others, which I guess would be a variation on the exercise central to your post on this today.

I liked your anecdote about your girlfriend telling you something from her past. She feared telling you, you feared hearing it...and in the end, things were all right because the rustling in the bushes of the past was ultimately worthy of remaining on the periphery of your relationship.

Sometimes I wonder if the root barrier and enemy of love of any kind is fear.

Ugh - I've been watching this past week as the viscera-laden implosion of the marriage of two dear friends puts the exclamation point on a slow decay. I'll be keenly interested when you post on sustaining love over time and your thoughts on the matter. I'd like to believe that love, like everything else, is not doomed under the governance of entropy.

All the best, Ben, this is as always as thought-provoking as your code experiences!

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@Alex, that's awesome. Thanks for sharing that. I am guessing your situation has improved since the burglary?

@Brian K,

I'm sorry to hear that about your friends! I know what it's like to have two friends go through a divorce and get completely disillusioned by it. One of my best friends and her husband are getting a divorce soon. I sang at their wedding. I really had high hopes for those two. Oftentimes, when you get to know a 'couple' as a 'couple', and especially when you become close with them and hang out with them regularly, you get to know them together, not as two separate people, but as one, and it leaves you with a sense of emptiness when they split. I truly believe that when two people get married, they become one. It's not just that the law treats you like that, it's the way it really is. So when they separate, it can be really hard for even people who are on the outside who are close to them. I'll keep you in my prayers. You found true, everlasting love with your wife, though, didn't you?

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@Anna,

I tend to agree about marriage. This is my second-go-round, and yeah, true and everlasting love, until I tire of her and eject her into space, under the laws of Moses and Ming the Merciless. For reals, though, it's good times. The existential implosion of our friends, of course, represents the horrifying fragility of relationships over time. Which is why I shall spit and polish my marriage every chance I get. I wouldn't be "me" without my wife. I'd imagine she'd say the same thing (that I wouldn't be "me" without her :) ).

And templating that by allowing once a week to pretend like the stirring beauty on the other end of our joint checking account is someone I don't know might produce some amusing, if not fun, results!

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@Brian K,

I think that's wonderful that you have found that everlasting love. It's a rare find. Even more awesome is the fact that you have committed to working on it on a regular basis. That's something, I think, that a lot of couples forget to do. Sometimes, they just take it for granted that it's going to last forever and forget that some work needs to go into it. Yeah, that's fun...it's a good thing to keep a relationship fun and fresh. Once I am married, there will be very little that is not on the table, with the exception of a threesome...sorry, I just don't share, human waste, and throwing up, but other than that, there wouldn't be too much off the table once married.

Question...do you believe in the concept of "the one". Like that there is only one person for everybody? I know some people who believe that, and if that is the case, and I have had my one, then I guess I am screwed. :-/ Oh well.

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@Anna,

We have an eastern European Jewish notion of a "beshert", or soul mate. According to this tradition, G-d works harder on arranging suitable couplings than Creation.

Butt it rings contrary to the astounding divorce rate in this country. Color me a romantic, I believe in "the one," but in the sense that the person you submit to completely and to whom you invest your loyalty. My wife and I hardly have any interests in common, but we have the most wonderful marriage in spite of our counter-intuitive coupling. Love and work, work and love...

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@Brian K,

One of the best relationships I have ever had in my entire life was with a guy with whom, from the outside, you would think I had nothing in common. He played guitar, which I loved, and was a Botanist, and I was in law school and then later school for computer science. I had previously thought I would want to be involved with someone who was more or less just like me. With that relationship, I learned that if you are in a relationship with someone who has different interests than you, you can really learn a lot from that person, and it really adds to who you are as well.

I know divorce rates are ridiculously high these days...I think it's something like 50%, but I am almost certain I remember seeing somewhere that divorce rates amongst people of faith were much lower. Also, the last time I heard, divorce rates were very low for people who saved sex for marriage. I know that is so rare, but I am thinking that it was over 75% success rates with marriages where that was the case.

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Once again Ben, this is brilliant. I've been thinking recently, I want to go back and experience the buzz of when I first met my partner, maybe treating her like I've just met her again will do that, especially coupled with my overwhelming love for. I'm going to go make her breakfast in bed.

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@Anna If you believe in 'the one', and you suffer the tragic loss of your partner, what happens then? Do you never love again, or just not as much, or in a different way?

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I've read many of your thoughts about relationships and love. Here is my conclusion: you are not interested in the reality of either. You are interested in these concepts as ideas only. I know this sounds cold and callous, but it is not meant to be. I think you have found that you can not feel true love. I think you see others have it and feel you should be able to have it as well, but you can't get to that point. You are immitating the literature on love because you can't internalize it. It is ok if love is not for you. Nobody said that you need to be in love. It saddens me that you feel there is something wrong with you.

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@Pete, I heard there was a study recently which concluded that often, most men fall deeply in love 3 or so times in their lives, whereas most women really only fall deeply in love one time in their lives. As for the tragic loss of my partner, I can imagine that if I ever met someone who made me fall head-over-heels deeply in love with him, and I lost him tragically, quite honestly, I don't think I could ever love anyone ever again that deeply. I would probably just live alone for the rest of my life and just enjoy friends and the things my life had given me.

On another note, I also heard a study done recently which concluded that the most successful relationships were ones in which the woman was better looking than the man...typically, the study concluded, the woman should be 3 levels above the man in looks for the best chance for success. :-)

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@Friend, I must say that I agree with some of the things you are saying, but not everything.

Yes, it is true that Ben love's concepts. He is after all, a nerd! One that I happen to love!

I think that Ben is very capable of loving and he WILL find true love, I have no doubt! or at the very least, someone to complete him. I think you are being a bit judgemental and that is not very nice.

I know Ben's Blog inside and out, I guess you can say, I'm his biggest fan. I have been following it for years. I am probably also his biggest critique with regards to his insight on relationships and love. To be honest, most of the time, when I read his stuff I think to myself, I sure hope he practices what he preaches, because those are some really awesome concepts.

I can relate to him in that I have never experienced true love either, quite like himself, I am trying to uncover the philosophy behind the idea of what "true love" should be.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Ben in person. I wonder what it would be like to meet him for the very first time? Maybe one day I will have the pleasure and him and I will experience "true love" together. Or, maybe, we will have a cup of tea and discuss the concept. Either way, I don't think it's up to anyone to judge him based on his concepts, we all have the right to have our own ideas about what we think "true love" should be! If there is even such a thing.

@Ben, thank you for always sharing your concepts with us. I have no doubt in my mind and heart, that one day, both you and I will find "true love" @love philosophy :)

Ps. I find it awesome that you don't judge your girlfriend based on her past, maybe with her, you will uncover "true love" good luck!

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@Friend,

Assumptions, even what you perceive to be informed assumptions, as basis for prognostication, are unhelpful. Injected into this blog is the soulful reflection of a man who has done nothing BUT internalize these concepts. Who writes better love songs/sonnets/tragedies, but those who have tasted but not maintained the fruits of love?

You cannot ignore the prevailing context that is our age of impermanence, either, and make such crass statements about someone's aspirations for romance or even love's place in ordinary relationships.

@Anna/Pete,

One thing I've observed is that our relationships are always in motion. I never thought I'd love again after the failure of my first marriage, but what I was really saying was "I don't want to suffer that betrayal again." The same, dig deeper, answer is there when you've loved someone who passes, "I never will love again" is tantamount to "I don't want to risk suffering this loss again." The potential to develop strong bonds of affection still exist. What becomes the problem are the guilt/fear obstacles. "What if I love the new person more/less than the one I've lost?"

Life and love are forever in motion. Even the love of your life, who you spend years deeply caring for, can one day become a stranger, someone you inexplicably hate all of the sudden. It's the solipsistic tightrope one walks with the concept of a destined partner, I suppose. It'd be easier if we'd yield to the quasi-scientific understanding of love/lust/attraction, and be content to get our foot in the door with the right combination of pheremones and awesomesauce.

The common theme here is nothing is set in stone. Notions of love yield to the immediacy of love found, and the practical philosophy that was the subject of Ben's post becomes incredibly germane. The predestination factor could be, I suppose, a self-imposed barrier between one and another's fruitful and love-laden relationship.

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Brian K, VERY well said.

Anna, there is no "one." Just get that out of your head.

I have heard of an alleged 80/20 rule. The person you marry is 80% of what you're looking for. But, inevitably you're going to meet someone who is that 20% that your spouse is not. And that is a huge temptation. For instance, if you and your spouse like hunting and fishing but you also like chess and your spouse does not, then when you meet someone who likes chess, s/he would be a temptation because that 3rd person matches what your spouse does not.

Seriously, there is no "one." If your spouse divorces you or dies, you'll find someone else who is different.

Frankly, I don't know why polygamy is illegal. That would pretty much take away, "cheating," which is a large reason for the 50% divorce rate.

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From a programming perspective, have we ever mitigated a problem by loosening constraints?

I think infidelity is a symptom of a larger problem, perhaps a materialistic take on "the good is the enemy of the better," disastrously applied to interpersonal relationships. So interwoven into the fabric of our marketing-driven culture is the concepts of "more, better, bigger, faster, more" that we subconciously introduce it into our romantic relationships.

The strongest argument I ever see against polygamy is what constitutes the realistic truth of it...in most extant applications it comes at the expense of women, i.e. Warren Jeffs and his child brides, submissive women having to exist within a cotere of submissive women.

I think they could successfully reduce the divorce rates by periodically banning the practice of family law on the part of attorneys...

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Regarding monogamy, it just also seems quite rigid. Don't get me wrong, I'm monogamous. But, I wonder if those who are much more attractive (wealth, looks, opportunity) may claim to be monogomous, but aren't. And I like vanilla ice cream. I'm just not sure if I'm going to always have vanilla every day for the rest of my life. I also don't want to betray vanilla :-)

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@Brian K,

I agree with what you said about "infidelity is a symptom of a larger problem". I have found that there are 3 types of people, basically, when it comes to this type of thing, and that is those who absolutely would never cheat no matter what, those who are serial cheaters, and those who generally wouldn't cheat, but could be persuaded. Sometimes, the larger problem is that you are with someone who is a cheater, and you may not have even realized it at first. Sometimes the larger problem is that one or both people are not getting satisfied in the relationship, so they look outward. I am certainly not blaming the person who is not doing the satisfying, but it is important if you are in a relationship to relize what it is that satisfies the other person and to try to make sure they are satisfied. I know that some people have ridiculous expectations, but most people could be satisfied if their partner knew what it would take and was willing to do that. Oftentimes, the person who is not satisfying the other has no idea that he or she is not satisfying their partner.

I have been in class with men who would cheat, and I have heard them talk about their wives/significant others, and how disatisfied they were with them, etc. I, personally, had no desire to cheat with them, but at the same time, I could kind of, somewhat understand why they would want to cheat. But I didn't want to be a part of that...I didn't want to be cheating with them. I just wished I could hold meetings with their wives/significant others and get them to understand that their husband/signifcant other would eventually end up cheating if things didn't change. I wanted to tell them that I wouldn't cheat with them, but they would eventually find someone who would. Heck, I wanted to tell them to start satisfying their men so their men would quit bothering me about it.

I have joked before about being ok with polygamy, and that was mainly joking. I could see, in some sort of alternate 'idealistic' reality, it maybe being able to work out. But overall, I just don't really think it would with human nature as it is. Most women are way too jealous to ever be ok with it. Defining what you are doing a different way, as in 'this is not illegal, so it must be ok' wouldn't change human nature, and it woudln't change the problems that most people would have with it.

And just consider this: what about a polyandry society instead??? How would you like to be 'sharing' your woman with many other men? I, personally, don't think I could handle more than one man...I can barely handle one!!! But there may be women who would be completely hip to this idea, and fully capable of handling more than one guy.

And from a biological standpoint, quite frankly, it makes more sense if we are just going to be talking about sex. Because men...they take time in between times. They don't really have the longevity or the endurance that women have. So, for a woman, having more than one, would provide for her needs when just one man simply wouldn't do it. Men need recovery time, and often can't go 'x amount of times per day'. Women can go all day long, and don't typically need recovery time at all. So from a biological standpoint, talking just about sex, it polyandry really makes more sense. Again, quite frankly, I wouldn't be interested in participating, but there are probably some women who would love that and be all for it.

One guy who wanted to have sex with me apparently thought, I guess, that my decision not to was based on the fact I wouldn't be getting enough out of it, so he actually told me he would get his friend invovled and they'd both do it and 'tag team'. I guess he thought that situation would persuade me to when I had originally decided not to. But I wasn't the least bit interested in that. I really couldn't imagine doing anything like that, ever. But I'm sure there are some women who wouldn't have a bit of a problem with it.

@Randall, you don't have to worry about 'just' having vanilla icecream every day for the rest of your life if the woman you choose to spend your life with knows how to shake it up. And I am not referring to involving other people, but you can have different experiences often if the woman you are with knows how to keep things interesting. There are so many things to do, so many things that can be done, you don't really have to be limited once you are married...the sky and beyond is the limit. At the very least, it would be vanilla with sprinkles. :-)

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Ah, Anna,

I'm glad you brought up jealousy. Is jealousy a positive or negative feeling?

I don't have the time to go in-depth. But if you're jealous, are you insecure? If you/I are insecure, then maybe there's something you/I need to work on?

I'm not saying I'm right/wrong. Just good topic for debate.

So here's my 'problem.' I am married. I do love my wife. But I feel like marriage is a lot like saying, "I have one and only friend." It's not healthy to have just one friend -- like it's also not healthy to eat just one food item 24/7. So, that's a stance I sorta take.

That said, in an ideal world, STD's (or is it now "STI"?) aside (i.e. if they were non-existent) and jealousy aside, I do believe that polygamy/polyandry would be feasible.

I guess my point is that I have many friends, all of which fill a part of me. So, why is it not like this with romantic relationships (RR)? What about RRs are different that you can't have multiple partners like you have multiple friends (again, STI's aside)?

I am attracted to other females who are friends of mine. Yet, I have to quell those feelings because of society (and fear of being Bobbit-ized!). Yet I "love" those female friends similar to the way I love my wife -- just not in bed. Understand my viewpoint? It's not that I'm purely wanting to f*** them, it's that I want to share my time with them as well -- and get and /give/ something slightly different from/to them, much like I get something different from/to each of my male friends each time I hang out with them.

So is it purely our personal insecurities -- and diseases -- that keep us from this type of world?

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@Randall,

I don't necessarily think jealousy is always a negative feeling.

When younger, I decided I was going to try my best to never get jealous. My mother was an extremely jealous person, and she was extremely jealous of my relationship with my dad.

I proceeded in my first relationship to not be jealous. Part of the reason I was not jealous with him is because I had an extreme level of trust with him. I could honestly say that I would be 100% ok with him sleeping in bed with a naked woman, knowing he would never touch her or have sex with her. I knew he would not. There were times when I was not there, because I was not able to be there, and he went out dancing (and/or to a club?). Of course, there would be women there, and he met women there. One night in particular, I remembered encouraging him to have one of the women friends he had met stay at his house instead of driving home, because I would rather her stay there and be safe than risk getting into a car and driving home drunk, endangering her life and possibly other people's lives on the road. I not only loved him, but I also loved her and the other women he met, as human beings. Obviously, not the same way that I loved him, but I loved them as human beings, and would much rather them stay with him at his house than to risk their lives driving home drunk. I would have been ok with him going to a strip club, because I trusted him.

I did a love seminar based on Song of Songs. I got the video tapes, and we watched them together at my house when he came to visit. We had 'church' at my house while completely nude watching these videos. During his talks, the presenter spoke about jealousy and possession. He quoted the part of song of songs that says, "his banner over me is love". Sometimes, you have such a strong love with and for someone, that they do have a hold on you, and it is there because of the love you have with them. It's not a bad thing.

When I am with a guy, when I am in love with him, he is all that I see...in that way. Do other guys out there who are mighty fine-looking exist? Sure they do! But they are to me when I am in a relationship merely fine pieces of art that I can thank God for for putting on earth and pleasing my eyes with. There is no feeling for them beyond that. I enjoy looking at them, sure. But I don't think about what I can do with them. Likewise, I have made the decision to be straight. I still think there are women on the earth that are drop-dead gorgeous. I do love looking at them. I try not to stare, because I don't want to creep them out. But I still enjoy looking at them nonetheless. But I don't want to do anything sexually with them.

I can go to an art museum and see some awesome-looking art hanging on the wall, and I can think it is so beautiful, but that doesn't mean I want to screw its brains out.

You can be attracted to someone without wanting to have sex with them.

That was how my relationship with him was. He and I both were so into each other, we simply didn't see other people of the opposite sex in that way. He and I could be in a restaurant, and the most gorgeous woman in the world could walk in, I'll say Catherine Zeta-Jones, because she's up there, and he would never notice. He would never take his eyes off of me. I would literally have to point her out to him. There were times when I did that. I would say to him, 'oh, look...there'a girl who's really pretty'. And he would always say back something to the effect of, 'she may be pretty, but I would never know, because I can't take my eyes off of you'. And it was exactly the same with me. We were so totally into each other on that level.

I don't think jealousy necessarily always means you are insecure. I really don't have too much to be insecure about.

I've spoken before about my mother, but even as I felt numb when she confessed her lack of an ability to love me as much as my sister, she didn't do a tenth of harm to me that men did. Men have hurt me much, much worse.

@Brian K,

"Pain makes us make bad decisions. Fear of pain is almost as big a motivator."

- House, MD

Fear can cause us to make really bad decisions, including holding us back from things like love. Unfortunately, I know what it is like to be in a relationship with a person I fear. I had a relationship with a man for longer than I care to have had that I feared for my life, and I stayed with him mainly to preserve my life. On several occasions, he threatened to kill me. I got him on tape once, theatening to kill me and to burn my parents' house down with them inside. One particular time, we were going on an overnight trip, and he told me to be ready when he got to my house. I was for the most part, but there were a few things I wanted to grab before we headed out. He was so mad at me for that that after our three hour trip to get to where we were going, we were talking, and he told me he had spent the entire three hours contemplating how he was going to kill me. I definitely experienced the Stockholm Syndrome with him...I stayed with him as long as I did because I was afraid to get out, and I grew attached to my 'captor' as a ways of surviving. Obviously, I got out as soon as I could, but I had to play it smart. He used this 'love' I had for him to coerce me into doing things I did not want to do.

He was very, extremely emotionally abusive. It almost never got physical...only one time. But it was extremely emotionally and mentally abusive. He liked to manipulate people, including me.

After he and I had been dating for years, he confessed to me that he was married. I had certainly not intended on dating a married man. I would never intentionally do that. I would never intentionally go after a married man. Heck, I won't even go after a man who simply has a girlfriend. I won't even allow myself to be interested in a man if one of my friends is interested in him. In high school, I had a crush on this guy. Then, I met this other girl and became friends with her, and she started liking him, not knowing I had a crush on him. So I set them up, and they dated for awhile. So I won't even be interested in or continue being interested in even someone that my friend is just interested in. But anwyay, the reason he was able to pull it off besides me being so naive and gullible is that he and his wife were extremely estranged. She was almost never at their house...she lived somewhere else most of the time.

And I did not want to stay in a relationship with a man who was married, but I was also trapped, and concerned he might make good on some of his threats to kill me. But eventually, I was able to get out.

After that relationship with him, for awhile, I had trouble trusting anyone again. It took a very long time for me to have another relationship with someone else. I was so damaged by that relationship. But I was eventually able to start dating again. It just took awhile.

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@Anna,

Whoa.

It's a shame you spent more than a few days with that guy, let alone years, single or otherwise :-( That's definitely negative jealousy.

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@Anna/@Randall,

You guys have lost me on this one. Maybe jealousy is good, maybe polyandry is possible, but I've got the narrow Judaic definition with adultery being a problem. Temptations notwithstanding, I relate sexuality directly to my marriage and my wife. I consciously don't want or need to be attracted to another woman, and it really has become that easy. Maybe the mid-life crisis hasn't hit yet, or maybe the age-diminished libido makes that easier. I'm at the point where sexual attraction to someone who is not my spouse would be burdensome. That's not to say a pretty lady can't turn my head from time to time, but as you say, Anna, it doesn't necessitate me imagining a sexual encounter with her.

I have one G-d to whom I pray, and I only need one wife with whom I share the world and raise our offspring. To each his or her own, of course, but make mine monogamy. The only thing I'll cheat on is ColdFusion, but only because .NET pays better.

@Anna - oy, what a mess! I wonder how it was for the guy's wife, if he was like that to you. It just seems like, again, there is something broken with men these days. I hope that's the last unpleasant surprise in store for you in relationships, or at least unmanageable unpleasant surprise, at any rate.

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@Randall,

no kidding...what a waste. I generally like to see relationships...even the ones that don't turn out the way you want them to, to be a positive thing, giving you a lesson that you learn, making you a better person, and adding to who you are. But there wasn't really anything I got out of that whole mess (except maybe how to avoid it, which could have been learned in the beginning, and then every point after that was pretty much a waste) Really, all I got out of that mess was jaded and damage.

When I was in high school, my sister and I used to share dudes. By that, I mean that guys would come around, but there were things I was obviously not interested in engaging in. However, my sister was a little wilder than me and a little bit more willing. So, if it turned out that a guy was all about that, and if she liked the guy and was willing, I would send him her way. It worked out, because I didn't have to do anything, and she had guys she could have fun with. And she returned the favor...she would meet guys and set me up with them. When I moved to the beach and lived there, she met this guy named Steve at one point and set me up with him, and he was cool. I really liked him a lot. Obviously, once we found guys we really cared about and were deeply into, sharing wasn't going to work. But it was good for high school and the fun times we had there.

@Brian K brings up an interesting point, though, that I meant to bring up but didn't...and that is offspring. Financially, besides STD's and jealousy, society couldn't handle everybody sleeping around, and I certainly hope guys wouldn't be knocking women up and then just leaving them with the full financial responsibility of a child for 18 years. For women, that is a huge drain, and there are a lot of women who simply, financially, can not handle it. By the same token, a lot of men can't afford to pay for that. And rarely is bc 100%...there's still always a risk, no matter how careful you are, and sleeping around like that significantly increases that risk.

@Brian K, I know, I have felt for his wife many, many times. I never hated her, of course, I just felt sorry for her. I did meet her, but to my knowledge, she never knew. There were times when I considered telling her, but for one thing, that would've been risking my life, and for another thing, after it was all over, what would be the point really? He probably is probably still dating people who are not his wife, and eventually, she will find out. But there's really no point to me being the one to let her know. It's really just not my business, and plus, it's dangerous.

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@Ben,

Finally got a chance to read this post...:) Think you had talked about it in brief earlier. Thanks for sharing the GF anecdote. I feel most of the times more than fear we are affected by lack of trust. She actually finally got to know you to the point she trusted to share the past which may have been completely inconsequential. Most of the times we really don't trust the other person that s/he would have the depth or empathy to understand or see things in right light. We judge people so much that we already build up preconceived notions about them and by doing that we create these invisible barriers. We actually become prisoner of our own thoughts. Sometimes sharing something about oneself, we may realize that the other person actually shades a completely new light on the facts that it even makes better sense... it's like they set you free.

I glanced through the comments and a lots of discussion about marriage, divorce and polygamy...:) I just want to throw the idea of how about not to define a relationship with a marriage into the discussion. I wish there were no marriage so there won't be any divorce. Full disclosure... I'm married... happily most of the times...;) (the only annoyance in our marriage at times are very trivial stuffs like doing things in certain ways etc.) Sometimes I wonder why do we need to be married to be monogamous. In my mind marrying and divorcing as such doesn't mean much as much as people staying in unhappy relationships just to keep up appearances. Now coming to falling in love more than once or whether there are more than one soul mates ... I would say yes to both just from my understanding of human nature. We all have happiness index that most of the times determines how optimistic or pessimistic we tend to be. People with higher happiness index can't stay unhappy for long even if they wanted to. Their basic nature would find a way to make their own self happy by adjusting and overcoming to the tough situation.

Now how to be in love with the same person throughout one's life... I think this can be divided into what really made two people to decide they are for each other from the onset and then despite of separate interests do both value the similar things. It mainly determines how much you respect each other.. since love somehow builds up but true respect for each other shows how much you share each other's opinion about most important things in life. Do you learn from each other constantly? Are you the best of friends... so that you can share your true opinion of each other while neither taking any offence... I think as Ben points out it's the interactions without any previous hang ups... that will keep things from getting old or stale. And most importantly are you proud of yourself of what you have become or how you think because of this relationship. We all are selfish and our inner self always wants to make sure we are better (spiritually) than what we were before or reaching towards our ultimate best self.

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@Smita,

I have discovered the formula to relationship longevity.

Long periods of separation for some kind of foreign service, with MMORPGs to foster teamwork and relationship building across distances.

Make love, AND Warcraft.

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@Brian,

Lol... whatever works for you...:)

Don't think I even enjoy any sort of virtual games. Not into video games either...:)

Best!

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@Brian K, that really works for you (and I could see how it would be beneficial to most marriages), but you are also very faithful, as we discussed, so your wife wouldn't have anything to worry about. As you have already said, to each his or her own, but I do know a lot of situations where the wife would be in constant worry about if her man was being faithful or not under that particular situation.

Ah, @Randall, so this is the post where the issue of fidelity arose? I was wondering...had gotten them confused. I got to thinking and looking into Astral Projection. Have you ever heard of it? Maybe you can learn how to do it, and then your Astral body can have sex with one of your women's Astral bodies (or maybe physical bodies), and then...maybe it wouldn't be considered infidelity? That could solve your 'problem', as it is?

@Smita, very deep and insightful post, as always. My happiness index is way up there, and I think it is somewhat of a (bio)chemical thing. Kind of like some people are (bio)chemically depressed, I am (bio)chemically happy, almost all the time. It's hard to explain, but something I've lived with my entire life. My uncle has the same thing, and with people like us, we get angry, anxious, happy, excited, etc., but rarely ever, if ever, depressed. It can manifest itself as inability to keep still, figety-ness, being distracted easily, excitability, and in some, promiscuity (if you allow yourself to go that road), and there are other ways it presents itself as well, but it keeps you from hardly ever feeling "down" or "depressed". Again, very hard to describe, but a (bio)chemical thing, nonetheless.

So sometimes, when someone "hurts" me, it comes across as anger. I'm kind of "hurt"...but really angry, and that's how it comes across, because I am "up" and not "down".

Ok, probably none of that made any sense whatsoever. Like I said, it is really hard to describe, but I am digressing.

Anyway, @Ben, I think it is sweet that your girlfriend shared that with you, and that it probably, if worked in the right way, strengthened and enhanced your relationship instead of making it do any of the downturns we sometimes think it might. That is why we are afraid. I say "we" because I can totally understand what your girlfriend was going through and relate...in the fear of having to share something with someone you have grown so attached to...the fear that they will think differently of you, the fear that it could ruin or make bad what once was good. I know all about all of that. And there are certain things that would make some men...there are some men like this...who would completely walk away from a girl because of something in her past. So fear on a girls' part to not want to share something in her past is completely reasonable. I think it says a whole lot about where you two have come as a couple that she was able to share that...it says a lot about the strength of your relationship where it is right now, and confidence in it. And that's a good thing. :-)

I will say this, also, which relates, that I kind of like to get everything out in the beginning, just so that it isn't harder later on...so I don't get too attached and THEN left after the guy finds out, but everybody is different when it comes to these things (and I probably have grander and scarier skeletons in my closet). So it's usually not too long into the relationship when all my cards are on the table, face up, for everyone to see. Full disclosure. I wouldn't say on the first date, necessarily, but early on. No point in scaring some guy silly that it wasn't really going to work out with anyway.

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